By Laura Lifshitz
When I was little, I used to spend a lot of time alone or with my mom. My sisters were considerably older than I was—5.5, 7 and almost 10 years older—so that meant it was either solo play or hang with Mom.
I used to sit and listen to her and her friends as they played this game called Mahjong, and one of the themes was often men. Generally, the theme was men are foolish. Men can’t be counted on. Men suck. Cue laughter. Repeat.
As I got older and schooled in life and not by my mom’s side, I saw friends divorce, I heard the bitterness.
I hear/heard it all over:
There are no more good men.
Apparently, they all expired a few decades ago when men could commit…least that’s the word on the street.
Now the tables have turned: I am single, divorced, older and…in the same shoes as these ladies were. I’m not bitter though. Hopeless a little? Yes, that would be correct. But not bitter. I know there are great men. They all happen to be my friends or happily married, but they exist.
One of the hardest things in life is to appreciate the people who broke your heart or treated you poorly either romantically or dating-wise, isn’t it? I find that for me, it’s one of the things that is the hardest to gain the lesson from until perhaps, you’re in love and not broken-hearted anymore.
So as a challenge, I thought I would really reach inside myself to find gratitude for the men that I met that weren’t worthy of anything from me dating them to me committing to them…or in-between. To try and find what I gained from these experiences.
You Can’t Go to College/You Are Stupid
I remember vividly the time I was talking to a lover of mine. He wasn’t my boyfriend and I didn’t want him to be. We dated, but that was it. I knew there was no potential there and I wasn’t looking for love from him. I was in my twenties and still very taken by good-looks and charm, unlike the older version of me.
He told me after I shared that I wanted to go back to college and graduate already, that I couldn’t go to college. I couldn’t make it. I wasn’t capable he told me.
I had never had a man blatantly call me stupid. Flash forward ten years later, there I was divorcing someone who in arguments would call me stupid. Because of my blonde hair and breast size, guys online would assume at first shot that I was stupid.
What is the lesson in all this? The gratitude?
Sometimes, I still feel “stupid” quietly and inside of myself, but mostly these people who assumed falsely and called me outright stupid have taught me how to prove to myself how stupid I am not.
- I graduated an Ivy League college.
- I run a household by myself.
- I built a business.
- I care for a child alone for the majority of the time.
Those are facts. The “feeling” stupid are feelings. Not facts.
I am anything but stupid.
To the guys who called me stupid, thank you. You forced me to build self-esteem. You force me years later, to continue to fight my self-doubt. The only stupid ones in this essay are them, not me. Stupidly sad inside and eager to degrade women.
You Are Just a Hot Body
Maybe one of my biggest lows, I had a partner tell me that no one would ever love me again. That I was just essentially, a hot body. Writing that just makes my skin crawl. Someone actually said that to me. A long-term partner.
As a survivor of rape—let’s say warrior because survivor sounds too victim-y for me—as well as other foul abusive play, this still grates on my last petite blonde nerve.
I think I have always felt trapped between owning my sexuality and also, feeling defined by it, like most women.
“Friends.” Strangers. Passersby. All male.
They’ve all felt entitled to comment on my body or my sexual or lack of a sexual life. This comment shook my self-foundation, which was very shaky at the time, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been with such a partner.
How can I ever thank someone that made me feel worthless?
Thanks to this person, I was forced to consider how he viewed me and to know that I could not be with him any longer. This comment gave me the freedom to move on. This comment drove me to think of my body differently. To love it as it dances ballet. To love it as it does push-ups and squats. To love it as it picks up my daughter for a big giant hug. This comment taught me that there are some men who will try to control you like property. Those men are not good partners. They are abusive.
So, when I am online or on a date and a guy seems inappropriate, a signal goes off in me. A signal that didn’t exist before. This signal says: Stay away from this jerk. And it’s protected me, ever since.
And the Miscellaneous Crew
It’s not just the total utter flashing-red-light jerks that have shaped who I am. It’s the ones I met that were just strange or harsh. The noncommittal men. The ones that were distant. Each heartache or uncomfortable or upsetting situation has made me, me.
Yes, I am a little hopeless, but no, I’m not bitter. I’m stronger than I was and more independent. I am sure of how much I have to offer and know I would make a great partner and lifelong friend.
I know all of this, so I am not settling. I am not waiting around. I am living my life alone, authentically and fully, doing my own thing and not letting anyone stop me.
Hopefully one day, I will find someone whose candle is as bright as mine…and who wants to pair off with me to make the world brighter, lighter and happier.
That to me is love. Someone who positively radiates his authentic being and who positively attracts to my radiant being. Someone who wants to make my candle brighter and his, together.
Until we are gone and all that is left are the memories we made…the footprints we left behind in others’ hearts and life journeys.
Someday I will find someone who knows I am worth committing to and he will do everything in his power to secure my love and respect…and commit to me wholly. And then, I’ll consider committing to him. Wink.
Hey, why not?
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a Freelance Writer, Content Creator, Comedienne, & Obsessive Chocoholic